Vernacular Typography

Mon 10th Oct

In groups, we were given the task to visualise and create ‘expressive typography’ in a space of our choice. Part of the brief was to consider what space and materials to use, how to reiterate the meaning and to research and develop concepts for what we could do.

The 4 of us in our group was given the word DISTRESS. We began by discussing what we thought the word meant and how we felt about it. Stress of exams and coursework is an obvious cause of distress which is what first sprung to mind so we thought about how we could incorporate books into the piece. We also researched the meaning online and found the definition was ‘extreme forms of anxiety, sorrow and pain’ which then lead us to think about what could cause anxiety. Things like phobias can cause anxiety, so situations that might make you feel uncomfortable like: claustrophobia; being in large groups of people; public speaking etc. Another meaning of distress is its use in art, so the idea that a piece of work looks old or ‘weathered’.

After discussing all these ideas we decided what we were going to do. Our strongest idea was using the word distress represented as a phobia. We decided to have the word placed inside a lift to show a situation where someone with claustrophobia would be distressed. The lift is small and when there’s a few people in there it can be quite a confined space so we used that as our space.

We wanted to use ‘distress’ as an aesthetic, the first thing we decided to do was print the word in letterpress. Letterpress can have quite a grainy effect to it so we printed the word then enlarged it on the photocopier so that it was a substantial size to be bold enough to stand out in the image. We printed the letters in red because we felt the colour represented the feelings associated with ‘distress’.

Once enlarging the letters we’d printed in letterpress, we cut them out then stuck them in the lift. All 4 of us went in the lift to make it look as full as possible. There was mirror in there so it was good to play around different compositions of the letters, where to positions ourselves in the image and where/how to take the photo.

Our final image was the letters stuck onto the mirror and a close of photo of those letters with people in the background representing the confined space. The space worked really well as it was dull and muted colours so have red letters really stood out well, reinforcing the idea of ‘distress’. We did edit the final image to emphasis the colour of the red and correct the levels of darkness in the image.




Final image

Tues 11th Oct

Feedback from review

  • Good use of letterpress
  • Composition shows ‘distress’
  • rely’s too much on the photography to convey message
  • “3 people in a lift doesn’t really show distress”

Author: ellenreiddesign

First year Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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